Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

BP ends 34-year sponsorship of Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival programme was launched by director Fergus Linehan Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The Edinburgh International Festival programme was launched by director Fergus Linehan

Oil giant BP has ended its sponsorship of the Edinburgh International Festival after 34 years.

The festival confirmed BP had not renewed its sponsorship and BP cited "an extremely challenging business environment" for the move.

The company had previously sparked protests from performers about climate pollution.

Among them actor Simon McBurney, who starred in last year's sellout show The Encounter.

Theatrical campaign group BP or not BP? staged two protest performances in Edinburgh last year.

Image caption Actor Simon McBurney, who starred in last year's sellout show The Encounter, was against BP sponsoring the festival

The EIF 2016 programme was announced on Wednesday and BP was absent from the sponsors list.

'Vital shift'

A BP spokeswoman said: "In what is an extremely challenging business environment, we are reducing spending and taking many difficult decisions across BP.

"We are delighted to have supported the Edinburgh International Festival for a number of years however, as a result of the current business environment, we have reluctantly decided not to renew our sponsorship this year. We wish the festival all the best in its preparations."

An Edinburgh International Festival spokesman said: "BP has not renewed its support of the Edinburgh International Festival this year.

"We are grateful to them for their long-term support of the festival, but all sponsorship arrangements end eventually."

Amanda Grimm, from BP or not BP? Scotland, said: "We are delighted that the sponsorship deal between BP and the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has not been renewed.

"We congratulate the EIF staff who kept the pressure on the festival's director after the performance protest at the festival last August.

"The world is shifting away from fossil fuels, and we believe that arts and cultural institutions, as trend-setters and forward-thinkers, should be at the forefront of this vital shift."

Ric Lander, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Edinburgh International Festival should be congratulated on freeing itself from fossil fuel sponsorship.

"We know that most fossil fuels reserves must be kept in the ground if we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

"We need to urgently move away from extracting and burning fossil fuels and companies like BP who continue to profit from the destruction of our environment have no place in our treasured cultural events or institutions."

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